North Macedonia Travel Guide
Macedonia is, quite simply, one of Europe’s most relaxing travel destinations. Outside the capital it’s almost all countryside, with vineyards, mountains, forests and rolling fields lending their hues to a pleasantly green patchwork.
Look a little closer at the few urban areas, though, and you’ll likely come to understand why the French refer to a mixed salad as a macédoine: this hotchpotch of Ottoman rule, Yugoslav domination, Orthodox faith and Albanian influence represents one of Europe’s most varied societies.
The capital, Skopje, is something of a Yugoslav symphony in grey, though one whose brutal architecture is softened by an appealing Ottoman center, as well as by friendly locals.
Most travelers prefer to base themselves around Lake Ohrid, a delightful, mountain-fringed expanse straddling the Albanian border. Between Skopje and Ohrid, a glut of immaculately painted monasteries competes for your attention; Sveti Jovan Bigorski is the most enjoyable, and lies within Mavrovo, a national park that provides great hiking opportunities, as well as skiing in the winter.
North Macedonia Travel Essentials
WHEN TO GO
May to June (summer high season) or Sep/Oct
HOW LONG IN NORTH MACEDONIA?
1 full day for Skopje; 5-7 days for the highlights; 10-14 days to see everything.
Fly into Skopje, Ohrid, train from Belgrade, or bus from neighboring countries.
NORTH MACEDONIA VISA
Visa-free for most passports (90 days).
Hire a car or use intercity buses/minibuses or slow trains.
50 USD per person per day (mid-range hotel; restaurant meals; bus fares; museum tickets).